ANALYSIS: Tribune Gets a Major Hispanic Footprint in SoCal after the Purchase of San Diego’s UT

What: Last week Tribune Publishing, the owner of The Los Angeles Times, announced the acquisition of the San Diego Union-Tribune, paying US $85 million to entrepreneur Doug Manchester in a deal that also includes 9 weeklies and digital properties owned by the San Diego Union Tribune.
Why it matters: The US $85 million Tribune is spending amount to a relatively high valuation for print properties, reflecting the value of the Southern California print and digital franchise. While smaller than the English-language publications of the Union Tribune, Tribune is also adding the Spanish-language weekly Enlace as well as s a weekly Spanish language lifestyle and entertainment magazine, Vida Latina San Diego. Tribune Publishing now owns a substantial portfolio of Southern Californian properties targeting the Hispanic Population.

Tribune Publishing Company announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire MLIM, LLC, owner of the California State FlagSan Diego Union-Tribune, as well as nine community weeklies and related digital properties in San Diego County. The purchase price is US $85 million, which includes $73 million in cash and $12 million in Tribune Publishing common stock, plus the assumption of obligations for a single-employer pension plan. Tribune Publishing will not be taking possession of the seller’s real-estate assets. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.

The acquisition substantially expands Tribune Publishing’s assets targeting the Southern Californian Hispanic population. The San Diego Union Tribune publishes a weekly newspaper called Enlace with a circulation of approximately 175,000, including an edition for the Southwest Riverside County. In addition, it publishes Vida Latina, a free glossy entertainment magazine available throughout the South Bay. Vida Latina has a circulation of 30,000 and mostly targets Hispanic Women in South San Diego County. Another Southern California/Mexican border property managed by Tribune is La Bolsa Azul, a polybag that is door-delivered in Tijuana and Mexicali on the Mexican-U.S. (California) border. In March last year, Tribune announced that Hoy Fin de Semana, the weekend home-delivered newspaper published by Hoy in Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, would also be distributed within La Bolsa Azul.

La Bolsa Azul, the polybagged door delivered product, is another Southern California/Mexican border property managed by Tribune.

Together with the Los Angeles Times Spanish-language properties (including Hoy and Hoy Deportes weeklies and home delivery saturation product Hoy Fin de Semana), Tribune now can offer advertisers a substantial Southern Californian footprint. Due to their heavy community newspaper element, many Hispanic newspapers have not gone through heavy circulation declines like the big metropolitan dailies, in fact some even have registered substantial circulation increases.

Hispanic NewspapersWhen the transaction closes, Austin Beutner will serve as Publisher & CEO of both the San Diego Union-Tribune and Los Angeles Times and as Publisher & CEO of the newly formed California News Group. “San Diego Union-Tribune will retain editorial independence, providing an authentic voice that reflects the diversity of the state and the distinct values of our communities,” Beutner said. “I also know the Los Angeles Times will benefit with a closer connection to its older sibling down south.” Roaldo Moran, publisher of Hoy Los Angeles, tells Portada that there are no news on any possible integration of the management of the Hispanic properties to report as those internal conversations have not started yet. “Tribune and the Los Angeles Times have a long history of supporting and working to deliver quality news and information to the Hispanic community. I am very familiar with their efforts, I worked for the Los Angeles Times back in 1990 when we were publishing “Nuestro Tiempo”. Tribune’s purchase of the San Diego Union Tribune will enhance and strengthen the Hispanic efforts of Enlace in San Diego. This is a very positive and big step forward for both companies as they work to serve the Hispanic community with quality content,” Hispanic newspaper veteran Mike Cano, now president of President AP&P Solutions tells Portada.

Tribune’s purchase of the San Diego Union Tribune will enhance and strengthen the Hispanic efforts of Enlace in San Diego.

Other companies targeting Hispanics in Southern California through digital and print properties, include impreMedia (La Opinion in Los Angeles). Freedom News Group through La Prensa and Excelsior, El Latino de San Diego and Long Beach’s Impacto USA which is owned by Los Angeles Newspaper Group (Digital First Media).